HEALDSBURG (CBS SF) — At least four people are dead and four others injured as the massive group of fires comprising the LNU Lightning Complex fires (map) burned through 215,000 acres as of Thursday evening, destroying or damaging more than 600 structures, fire officials reported.
A Cal Fire Sonoma Lake Unit update at 7:30 p.m. said significant fire growth is expected and the fires continue to make runs in multiple directions, impacting multiple communities. Multiple fires have merged on the north side of Lake Berryessa into the Hennessey Fire, and was actively spreading into large areas of timber.
In Napa County and Lake County, the Hennessey Fire was at 192,000 acres as of Thursday evening. The largest of the LNU Complex fires, the Hennessey Fire is now merged with the Gamble, Green, Aetna, Markley, Spanish, Morgan, and Round fires.
In Sonoma County, the Walbridge Fire — merged with the Stewarts Fire — has burned 20,000 acres west of Healdsburg. Also in Sonoma County, the Meyers Fire north of Jenner has burned 3,000 acres.
There was zero containment on the fires as of Thursday evening.
- EVACUATIONS AND ROAD CLOSURES (updated 8:30 p.m.)
This is a breaking news update. Previous update follows below.
The 14,500-acre Walbridge Fire in Sonoma County is now the top priority for firefighting efforts in the LNU Lightning Complex fires (map) burning in the North Bay, fire officials said Thursday.
The wildfires that comprise the LNU Lightning Complex have burned 131,000 acres in Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Solano and Yolo counties. All were at zero containment as of Thursday afternoon. At least 105 structures have been destroyed, another 30,500 are threatened. Four civilians have suffered injuries.
On Wednesday night the Walbridge Fire prompted an evacuation warning for the city of Healdsburg and was threatening the Russian River communities of Guerneville and Rio Nido.
“We have plans in place for the protection of those communities, but a lot of work needs to be done,” said Cal Fire Division Chief Charlie Blankenheim at a Thursday press conference. “It’s a very, very active fire and there was significant structure damage and significant structure loss yesterday.”
Details about the structure loss were not immediately available, but it was known not to be in either Guerneville or Rio Nido.
On Wednesday, fire claimed the life of a PG&E worker, killed helping first responders in Vacaville.
“We can confirm that a Vacaville-based troubleman passed away while assisting first responders as they dealt with the LNU Complex Fire,” the utility said. “Out of respect for the family’s privacy, we won’t be sharing additional details at this time.”
“On Wednesday August 8, 2020, in the afternoon, a PG&E employee was located in his vehicle in the Gates Canyon area, unresponsive. CPR was performed, the employee was transported by ambulance, and pronounced deceased at a local hospital,” Cal Fire said in a statement. “The employee was in the Gates Canyon area clearing infrastructure (pole, lines, etc) to make the area safe for emergency responders. Please keep the family and PG&E in your thoughts and prayers.”
After making a Wednesday morning run into Solano County and torching reportedly dozens of homes on the edge of Vacaville, the southeastern-most tendril of the 105,000-acre Hennessey Fire, the largest of the LNU Complex, was still burning in the area Thursday but firefighters were making steady progress, a Cal Fire official said.
“We’re doing really good in there,” said Cal Fire Division Chief Charlie Blankenheim at a Thursday morning news conference.
Blankenheim said burning trees, yards and fences still pose a “significant threat” to structures in the area.
But, he said, “We’re fairly confident that we stopped the spread and hopefully there won’t be any more push further into Vacaville, we’ll beable to keep it where it is, and we’ll keep any more structures from being lost.”
Firefighting efforts have been hampered by a shortage of resources, which are stretched statewide following storms that delivered an estimated 10,849 lightning strikes that sparked 367 fires in California, 23 of which are considered major.
“We’re just one small piece of that bigger picture,” said Cal Fire incident commander Sean Kavanaugh.
Because the Walbridge Fire tops the priority list now, more resources, including aircraft, are expected Thursday, according to Cal Fire Division Chief Ben Nichols.
On Thursday, Fairfield authorities lifted evacuation orders for all homes in city limits. Other portions of rural Solano County north of Interstate 80 were still under mandatory evacuation orders, as was Travis Air Force Base.
“Were hoping to make a lot better progress today. We are expecting better conditions than we had the last couple of days,” said Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal.
He said, though, that low humidity and wind, as well as the fact that moisture from the Sunday and Monday thunderstorms has completely dried out, still pose significant challenges to the firefighting effort.
Another much smaller Sonoma County fire, which started Wednesday along Skaggs Springs Road just south of Lake Sonoma, grew overnight and a tactical decision was made to let it merge with the Walbridge Fire so that resources could be more efficiently allocated, Nichols said. The size of the smaller blaze was not immediately available.
In another bit of good news, the 3,000-acre Meyers Fire, just south of Fort Ross, while still uncontained, is “in a confined area and not continuing to grow at this point,” Nichols said.
Fire officials and county leaders continued to urge residents to heed evacuation warnings.
“This fire is zero contained,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, whose district is most threatened by the Walbridge Fire.
As dawn broke Thursday, a wall of flames that jumped I-80 continued its march toward Fairfield. Non-mission essential personnel and their family members were forced to evacuate at nearby Travis Air Force Base.
Greg Valentine watched the fire from the Fairfield’s Paradise Valley Crest neighborhood Wednesday evening, worried it could destroy his whole livelihood.
His neighborhood was told to evacuate. He got his family out of there but stayed behind so he could monitor the fire’s movement.
“I literally cried, I’m going to be honest,” Valentine said. “I’m not a guy who panics, but knowing you work all week for the last 10 years…and now you’re house may be gone.”
Meanwhile, on the fire complex’s western edge, Healdsburg residents were warned they soon may be forced to evacuate their homes. The warning was issued by Healdsburg officials at about 8:15 p.m.
“Residents may be ordered to evacuate soon. Do not wait to start gathering your things and be ready to leave,” the warning read. “If you feel you are in danger please evacuate now. Check with your neighbors to ensure they have been made aware of the warning.”
The message also asked the public to stay vigilant and aware regarding current fire conditions, adhering to all road closures and any evacuation warnings.
St. Helena Hospital was also evacuated. Fifty patients were at the 151-bed hospital when the evacuation order was issued just before 7 p.m., said Linda Williams, an Adventist Health public information officer.
The patients were taken wherever their needs could best be met, she said, some to Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa. Williams said Napa County Sheriff’s deputies assisted staff with the evacuation and that the process was “calm and orderly.”
“We’ve had plenty of time to prepare for this,” she said. “This is not a panicked evacuation.”
More than 4,400 homes – approximately 13,254 people – in Napa County were under mandatory evacuation as of Wednesday night, a county spokesperson said. An additional 1,240 households – 3,720 people – were under evacuation warning.
Earlier Wednesday afternoon, Cal Fire ordered thousands of other Sonoma County residents to evacuate their homes as two wildfires raged nearby.
About 8,000 residents near Guerneville and the Russian River received orders to leave immediately as the Walbridge and Meyers Fire continued to grow Wednesday evening, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Walbridge Fire had spread far enough that it could be seen from downtown Guerneville.
“I’ve never seen a fire this close to town,” one local said watching the flames move towards town. “It’s pretty crazy, but it happened very fast.”
“Got my dog food packed, my computer, two guitars,” another man said. “Ready to roll.”
- Hidden Valley Lake and Jerusalem Valley areas, including residents living North of Butts Canyon Road, South of Hofacker Ln to Morgan Valley Rd, East of Hwy. 29 and West of the Lake/Napa County line.
A temporary evacuation point has been set up at the old airstrip off of Hwy. 53 in Clearlake.
- Eastside of Highway 29 – North of the Napa/Lake County line up to the southern Intersection of Highway 29 / St Helena Creek Rd (Across from the Twin Pine Casino)
- All of St Helena Creek Rd – to the Highway 29 / St Helena Creek Rd / Butts Canyon Intersection
- All areas west of Highway 29 (including areas west of Saint Helena Creek Rd.)
- North and East of the Lake/Napa County Line (extending north to the Anderson Springs Rd. continuing between the County Line and Highway 175)
- South of Anderson Springs Rd, Neft Rd., and the Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Park Area prolongation to the intersection of Hofacker Ln. and SR-29 – This includes Middletown proper
- Highway 128 from Lower Chiles Valley Road to Monticello Road
- Highway 128 from Chiles Pope Valley Road to Lower Chiles Valley Road
- Chiles Pope Valley Road from Highway 128 to Lower Chiles Valley Road
- All of Hennessey Ridge Road
- From Moskowite Corner to Wooden Valley Rd, Including the community of Circle Oaks
- Atlas Peak from the Bubbing Well Pet Cemetary at 2462 Atlas Peak Rd to the dead end
- From Loma Vista Rd / Soda Canyon Rd to the dead end
- All of Steele Canyon Rd from Hwy 128 to and including the Berryessa Highlands Sub Divison
- Wragg Canyon Rd – from Hwy 128 to the end of the road, including Pleasure Cove Resort
- Chiles Pope Valley Road – From Lower Chiles Valley Road to Pope Canyon Road
- Highway 121 (Monticello Road) – from Wooden Valley Road to Silveraldo Trail
- Pope Valley Road – From Aetna Springs Road to Chiles Pope Valley Road
- Aetna Springs Road – From Pope Valley to the dead end
- Butts Canyon Road – From Aetna Springs Road to the Lake County line
- James Creek Road – From Butts Canyon Road to the dead end
- Highway 121 (Monticello Road) – from Wooden Valley Road to Vichy Ave
Community of Angwin
Community of Deer Park
St Helena Hospital
East side of HWY 29 from Lake County line down to Silverado Trail
East side of Silverado Trail from Highway 29 to Highway 128
Northwest side of Highway 128 to Chiles Pope Valley Road
Northwest side of Chiles Pope Valley Road to Pope Valley Road
Northwest side of Pope Valley Road to Butts Canyon Road
West side of Butts Canyon to Lake County
- North of Austin Creek Recreational Area
- East of The Cedars
- Mill Creek Road west of the intersection of Puccioni Road
- South of Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road
- South of Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road
- West of West Dry Creek Road and Westside Road
- North of Sweetwater Springs Road and McCray Ridge Road
- East of the East Austin Creek (the actual creek)
- Ink Grade – from Pope Valley Road to White Cottage Road
- Howell Mountain Road – From Pope Valley Road to White Cottage Road
- Walbridge Fire – County Evacuation Zone 4A1
All areas East of the Russian River
North of River Rd.
West of Trenton Healdsburg Rd. and Eastside Rd.
South of the area between the western dead end of Windsor River Rd. and the Russian River
- Walbridge – Evacuation Zone 4B1 (Northern Forestville)
All areas south of River Rd. from Martinelli Rd. to Trenton Rd.
West of Covey Rd.
North of Front St. / Hwy. 116
East of Martinelli Rd.
- Walbridge – Evacuation Zone 2K2
All areas south of Hwy. 101
East of the Russian River to the Windsor Town limits
North of where Windsor River Rd. dead ends extending west to the Russian River.
- Meyers – Evacuation Zone 1E3
All areas south of the Russian River
West of Bohemian Hwy.
North and East of Coleman Valley Rd. and Willow Creek Rd.
- Meyers – Evacuation Zone 1E1
All areas south and west of Willow Creek Rd.
North of Coleman Valley Rd. and Wright Hill Rd.
East of the California Coastal National Monument (BLM property)
- Meyers – Evacuation Zone – 1C1
All areas east of the Sonoma coast to the south fork of the Gualala River. South of Kruse Ranch Rd. and Howser Bridge Rd. to Fort Ross Rd.
- Meyers Fire – Evacuation Zone 1F1
All areas east of Bohemian Hwy.
North of Graton Rd. and Harrison Grade Rd.
West of Harrison Grade Rd., Green Valley Rd., and Hwy. 116
South of the Russian River
- Meyers Fire – County Evacuation Zone 1F2
All areas south of the Russian River
East and North of Hwy. 116 (Pocket Canyon)
West of Martinelli Rd.
- Monticello Road from Vichy Ave to Silverado Trail
- West of Meyers Grade Road to the coast
- South of Fort Ross Road
- North of Russian Gulch State Beach
- North of Austin Cree Recreational Area
- East of Cedars
- West of Mill Creek Rd
- South of Stewarts Point-Skaggs Spring Road
Evacuation Centers/Temporary evacuation points:
Napa County: Crosswalk Community Church, 2590 First Street, Napa
Lake County: Old airstrip off of Hwy 53 in Clearlake
- Vacaville Ice Rink, 551 Davis Street, Vacaville
- McBride Senior Center, 91 Town Square Place. Vacaville
- Sierra Vista School – 301 Bel Air Drive Vacaville
- Ulatis Communit Center, 1000 Ulatis Drive, Vacaville
- Will C. Wood High School, 998 Marshall Rd, Vacaville
- Joseph Nelson Commuinty Center, 611 Village Center Drive, Suisun
- Rodriguez High School, 5000 Red Top Rd, Fairfield
- Lambrcht Sports Complex, Lambrecht Drive, Suisun (CLOSED at this time)
- Old Walmart Parking Lot, 300 Chadbourne Rd, Fairfield
- Guru Nanak Sikh Temple, 2948 Rockville Rd, Fairfield
Sonoma County: Santa Rosa Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa
Animal Evacuation Center:
Napa County: Animal Shelter, 942 Hartle Court, Napa
Vallejo Fairgrounds, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo (large animals)
Solano County Animal Shelter, 2510 Claybank Rd (small animals only)
Dixon Fairgrounds, 655 S. First Street, Dixon (large and small animals)
- SR-121 at Wooden Valley Rd (this was previously the SR-121 at SR-128 closure). This closure will be staffed by an officer. Circle Oaks is being or will be evacuated
- SR-128 at Pleasent’s Valley Rd. Woodland CHP and Caltrans are staffing this closure. No traffic westbound on SR-128 from this intersection. Traffic can move east on SR-128 and south on Pleasent’s Valley Rd
- Butts Canyon Rd at Snell Valley Rd. This closure is staffed by a CHP officer. We do not want anyone traveling south on Butts Canyon Rd past this intersection
- SR-128 at Silverado Trail. This closure is staffed by a CHP officer and Caltrans
- Napa County Roads is working on the following closures:
- Atlas Peak Rd at Westgate Drive. No traffic north on Atlas Peak Rd. past Westgate Drive. This section of Atlas Peak is being or will be evacuated
- Soda Canyon Rd at Silverado Trail. Soda Canyon Rd. north of Loma Vista Drive is being or will be evacuated. We do not want any traffic on Soda Canyon Rd north of Loma Vista–it’s easier to close it at Silverado Trail
- SR-1 @ Fort Ross Road- No traffic on S/B SR-1 and no traffic E/B on Fort Ross Rd
- SR-1 @ Meyers Grade Road- No traffic on N/B SR-1 and no traffic on N/B Meyers Grade Rd
- Fort Ross Road at Seaview Road- No traffic on W/B Fort Ross Rd. and no traffic on E/B Fort Ross Rd
- Myers Grade Road at Fort Ross Road- No traffic on S/B Meyers Grade Rd
- Dry Creek Rd at Dry Creek
- Yoaking Bridge Rd at Dry Creek
- Lyton Springs Rd at Dry Creek
- Westside Rd @ Dry Creek
- Wohler Rd at River Rd
- Odd Fellows Park Rd at Russian River
- Bohemian Hwy at Russian River
- Mosscow Rd at Hwy 116
- Hwy 116 at Hwy 1 (Move Hwy 1 at Myers Grade)
- King Ridge Rd @ Sewell Rd (private Rd with gates)
- Skaggs Spings Rd at Sewell Rd (Anvil Ranch)
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report